Parking by the bay a cash cow for Barrie

By John Devine

When it comes to parking along the waterfront over the next year or so, residents and visitors alike will notice a couple of key changes: visitors will have to pay to park along Barrie’s shores, and there will be more parking available – a lot of it!
If you are a local you might have already received your parking pass in your water bill. Presumably it will be similar to the pass marina members have been getting for years: something to hang on the rearview mirror. Or, it might be a dashboard pass. No matter, if you are a Barrie resident you will get one.
The new regime starts on July 2, with passes being mailed out between April 10 and June 6. If you don’t get one, drop by the water department at City Hall, or at East Bayfield Community Centre, Holly Community Centre, Allandale Community Centre to pick one up.
The pass will allow residents to park in the north and south Centennial lots, in front of the marina, in the Southshore Community Centre lot, at Tyndale and Minet’s Point parks, the Johnson’s Beach lot, and at the Tiffin boat launch.
If you are not a resident, then be prepared to pay for the privilege of using Barrie’s waterfront. Cost is $3 a day to a maximum of $15, or a monthly pass can be purchased for $60.
Charging out-of-towners to park along the waterfront is a development that should have happened a long time ago. Revenue will help chip away at City Hall’s projected $814,000 parking deficit, as will other measures already implemented: a 25 per cent increase in metered parking rates, from $1 an hour to $1.25, and a $5 a month increase to park at the Collier Street Parkade, up to $85 a month from $80.
It’s believed the fees to park along the waterfront could generate $485,000 this year, and $970,000 next year. The other increases are expected to garner an additional $200,000 in parking revenue.
However, the resident parking pass won’t cover all waterfront lots. The gravel lot at the end of A dock, for instance, is designated a ‘hybrid’ lot, and a $60 a month pass is required to park there. Free parking for residents, but not too much, council seems to have decided.
The Downtown BIA’s pitch, made in January, for 24/7 paid parking also deserves a good look, and hopefully it’s getting one from city officials and councillors. The BIA’s plan calls for downtown shoppers to get the first two hours of parking free, which should provide a boost to stores open during daytime hours by leveling the playing field with malls and power centres, where customers always park for free.
And finding some way to get parking revenue from people coming downtown when the sun sets to enjoy the city’s nightlife also makes a lot of sense.
The city has 2,656 paid parking spots, mostly in the downtown. But with the movement of Lakeshore Drive away from the lake, it’s about to get a lot more. Work is progressing this summer with bridge and infrastructure improvements, setting the stage for the realignment of Lakeshore. (Click here for a City Scene Barrie story on that). Although it is being pitched as a project to create more parkland, which it will, what it will really create is a lot more parking of the paid kind that will earn revenue.
Parking spaces along Lakeshore are set to more than double by the time the project is completed, from 210 to 450. If you conclude that parking factors predominantly into these plans, you are not incorrect. The site plan shows three major parking areas to be located between the new road and the park/marina lands. If that is the major gain, taxpayers may well ask why move the road at all? Instead, why not create parking lots to the west side of the existing roadway?
But, that’s a moot point as the work is underway. And at the end of the day, Barrie will have all these new parking spots to add to the existing ones, all pouring money into city coffers and keeping parking costs off the backs of residents.